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News | Aug. 23, 2012

CONR to fly air defense exercise in preparation for RNC

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region fighters will be active prior to the Republican National Convention preparing to protect the skies around Tampa, Fla.

Exercise Amalgam Virgo 12-03, a NORAD air defense exercise, will be held Aug. 24, in the greater Tampa area to allow interagency partners the chance to practice our response procedures to airspace violations.

The Amalgam Virgo exercise comprises a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard, Air Security Operations Center and the Continental U.S. NORAD Region's Eastern Air Defense Sector.

Residents in the Tampa area can expect flights to begin around 9 a.m. EDT, and continue for approximately one hour.

Exercise Amalgam Virgo is designed to hone NORAD’s intercept and identification operations. Civil Air Patrol aircraft, Air National Guard C-21 aircraft, Air Force F-15s, and a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter will participate in the exercise.

"Planning for and providing the air defense for special security events, like this year’s Republic National Convention, are a part of our everyday mission," said Col. Randy Spear, 601st Air and Space Operations Center commander. "When it comes to providing air defense for special security events like this there are many agencies involved. This Amalgam Virgo exercise allows us the opportunity to sharpen our air defense skills right alongside our interagency partners.”

The 601st AOC is responsible for detecting, deterring, defending and if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the citizens of the United States and to U.S. critical infrastructure.

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure the Continental U.S. NORAD Region's rapid response capability. The Continental U.S. NORAD Region has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command's response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

During the Republican National Convention, Air Force fighter jets will be airborne enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration's Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) zone during the summit. Officials advise all aviators to check the Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) as required with a special focus on TFRs.